Lucile Gottschalk and Aaron Heimbach House


Michelangelo Sabatino


IIT College of Architecture, Docomomo US Board of Directors


Chicago, Regional Spotlight
Image details

The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929-1975, by Susan S. Benjamin and Michelangelo Sabatino, published by The Monacelli Press. Expected in August 2020. 

Use code MODERN20 to receive 20% off pre-orders of the book through the Monacelli website.

Modern in the Middle Part Two:
Lucile Gottschalk and Aaron Heimbach House

The house for Dr. Aaron and Lucile Gottschalk Heimbach in the city of Blue Island, south of Chicago, is one of a handful of single-family houses designed by Bertrand Goldberg. After starting his own independent practice with the commission of the Harriet Higginson House (1935) in the city of Wood Dale (northwest of Chicago), he designed this family residence and physician’s office. This mixed-use live-work building type was relatively rare, even though architects like Paul Schweikher (for whom Goldberg had worked early on) had recently completed his house and studio in 1938. While Goldberg’s designs for multi-unit housing are among his most iconic contributions to Chicago’s post–World War II built environment, in recent years his single-family houses have begun to receive more attention.(1)

Dr. Aaron Heimbach was part of a local family of established entrepreneurs in Blue Island. Designed for himself, his spouse at the time, Lucile Gottschalk Heimbach, and son Richard D. (who would follow in the footsteps of his father to become a physician), this two-story, flat-roof house clad in Chicago common brick occupies a corner lot and has a distinctly urban quality.(2) While Goldberg would eventually become known for his exuberant curvilinear concrete volumes, the Heimbach House owes a considerable debt to International Style rationalism. A carport and living room with large windows separated by a monumental chimney are part of a rectangular volume that is set back from the street on a lawn; the one-story office wing (which contains a lab, dark room, and x-ray room) extends out to the sidewalk so as to make it more accessible and visible to patients from the street. The second story is set back farther from the street to ensure greater privacy for the family and contains bedrooms, a maid’s room, baths, living room, and an enclosed outdoor roof deck facing south.

In 1997, Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel purchased the house. In 2004, they began an extensive, multiyear preservation project involving repointing and masonry repair, reglazing, and a full upgrade of the heating and electrical system. In 2009, the Heimbach House was the recipient of the Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award. It has also received local Blue Island landmark status in 1991.3 This is an inspiring example of stewardship of Chicago’s modern heritage, especially in light of the recent demolition of Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital that occurred despite vocal protests.


  1. “A Portfolio of Work by Bertrand Goldberg,” Architectural Forum 84, no. 5 (March 1946): 107–15. See also Alison Fisher, “The Road to Community: The Houses and Housing of Bertrand Goldberg,” in Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention, ed., Zoë Ryan (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago; 2011), 62–97, distributed by New Haven and London: Yale University Press. See also Gary Gand, Julius Shulman: Chicago Midcentury Modernism (New York: Rizzoli, 2010), 46–53.
  2. 1940 US Federal Population Census, accessed April 3, 2019, lists Aaron Heimbach (30) as “doctor” in “private practice,” Lucile (27) as “medical/social” working at a “hospital,” and their son (5) residing at 11356 So. Lothair Ave, Cook County, prior to relocating.
  3. Tom Hawley, email reply to author, May 15, 2019.


Michelangelo Sabatino trained as an architect, preservationist, and historian. As an educator, academic administrator, and award-winning scholar, Sabatino has shaped architectural discourse and practice in the Americas and beyond. Between 2017-19 Professor Sabatino served as Interim Dean for the College of Architecture of the Illinois Institute of Technology. He currently directs the PhD program in architecture and is the inaugural John Vinci Distinguished Research Fellow. Sabatino has trained new light on larger patterns of architectural discourse and production: his book Pride in Modesty: Modernist Architecture and the Vernacular Tradition in Italy (2011) was translated into Italian and won critical acclaim and multiple awards, including the Society of Architectural Historians’ Alice Davis Hitchcock Award. His most recent books include Canada: Modern Architectures in History (with Rhodri Windsor Liscombe, 2016), Avant-Garde in the Cornfields: Architecture, Landscape, and Preservation in New Harmony (with Ben Nicholson, 2019), Making Houston Modern: The Life and Architecture of Howard Barnstone (with Barrie Scardino Bradley and Stephen Fox, 2020), and Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929–1975 (with Susan Benjamin, 2020). Additionally, he supports the preservation of modernism through his work as a member of the Board of Directors of Docomomo US

Modern in the Middle Part Three: the Ennis House